Cyril Ramaphosa has launched an SIU investigation into a big project failure some blame on Pravin Gordhan

Business Insider SA
Pravin Gordhan
Pravin Gordhan (Photo by Jeffrey Abrahams/Gallo Images via Getty Images)
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has directed the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to dig into a massive – and very troubled – IT project run by the National Treasury.
  • Some within the ANC, and media outlets created by the Gupta family, have blamed those troubles on Pravin Gordhan, who was finance minister at a crucial time.
  • Parliament came down hard on Treasury about the matter, which has also drawn the attention of the Public Protector.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has directed the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to dig into failures around a massive information-technology tender at National Treasury – failures which some have been blamed on Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan, currently the minister of public enterprise, was in charge of Treasury during a crucial period of the project.

Ramaphosa signed the proclamation initiating the SIU investigation on 6 January, but it was only formally published on Friday.

In the proclamation, Ramaphosa directs the SIU to investigate contracts around the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS), going back as far as 1 January 2016.

Gordhan was appointed minister of finance on 14 December 2015.

The terms of the investigation are broadly defined, covering any breach of rules, guidelines, or legislation, as well as anything in the procurement process that caused to be "not fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective".

In similar broad terms, the SIU is directed to investigate Treasury officials and employees for any "unlawful, irregular, or improper" intervention in contracts.

The IFMS was approved by Cabinet in 2005 with the goal of integrating all of government's HR and financial systems – but after a decade and well over R1 billion spent had "shown no noticeable outcomes" by 2017.

The IFMS project has been under scrutiny – sometimes controversially so – since 2105. It has drawn the attention of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who insisted she was not persecuting Gordhan. Both Parliament's Standing Committee on Appropriations (SCOA) and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) have heavily criticised Treasury's failure to follow its own procurement rules in the project, and have called for heads to roll.

Several attempts have been made to lay at least some of the blame at the door of Gordhan. ANN7, the television news channel established by the Gupta family, ran a dramatic "exposé" about the matter in 2017, featuring calls for Gordhan to personally pay back some of the money.

Later that year Duduzane Zuma, son of former President Jacob Zuma, raised the IFMS in an open letter to Gordhan. Days later the ANC Youth League called for Gordhan and others to be pursued about the waste of public money, while the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans organisation said Gordhan was among those who had questions to answer.

Gordhan said the claims around the IFMS amounted to an orchestrated campaign by the "Gupta syndicate" intended to shift focus away from state capture revelations. 

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